Monday, February 16, 2015

Genealogy Research Aids - Genealogy Do-Over Week 5

I once asked my father which tools we should buy to be prepared for the repairs we might have to make on an (but new to us) house -- aside from the basic hammer, screwdrivers, and pliers.  He responded that it depended on the job we wanted to do.  He suggested that we buy the tools as we needed them for whatever job we had to do.  Otherwise, he said, we might buy tools that we'd never use.  That advice has served us well through the years.

My genealogy toolbox, like our physical toolbox, began with some essentials.
  • FamilySearch - for a variety of records with new content added often
  • Heritage Quest (available through many libraries at no cost) - for census records
  • Ancestry - for their variety of records with new content added frequently
  • Linkpendium - surname lists and state- and county-specific links by category

I've added to my toolbox over the years.  When I have a question about an ancestor, her geographic location, his employment, or anything else, I search for a source to help answer my question. 
  • Libraries' websites may offer obituary files, postcard files, city directories, newspapers, etc.  Libraries also have books, which continue to be useful!
  • Genealogy societies have their own websites which offer location-specific information.
  • Transcription forms for census and other records help me carefully evaluate what I find.
  • Map resources help me learn where an ancestor lived, see who his neighbors were, and how far he lived from town, a church, the school, etc.
  • Rootsweb county websites offer location-specific information.  Rootsweb offers a host of other helpful resources, too, including a variety of email lists specific to location, surname, occupation, etc.
  • Money changes value. I've found several websites that translate from one time to another.
  • And so many more.

Under the header of this blog are clickable links to pages (in either red or green, depending on whether you've clicked on them before):

Genealogy Research Aids      Ohio Resources      Pennsylvania Resources              

Many of my most-used online resources are listed there.  I have others bookmarked in my browser and a few in emails.

I'm not averse to acquiring physical tools that we might or probably will use when they're on sale new at a store, we see them at an auction, or someone is giving tools away.  Likewise, when someone recommends a site that I think may be helpful to me in the future, I copy the url for possible use.  After I've found it to be useful, I add the link to the appropriate page, above.  I know I'll be adding more resources in other categories.

My goal is to clean up and organize the resources that aren't on the pages above -- the ones that are scattered hither and yon as bookmarks, as emails, and jotted on paper.  (Either I'm slow or time is going faster than it used to because things take me so long to do.)

As a family historian/genealogist I never know what I'll want to learn next about an ancestor or where I'll find the information.  Having resources at my fingertips is such a blessing; even more so that new and helpful information continues to become available online.  I'm grateful to other bloggers who share research aids and websites they've found. 

Click on Genealogy Do-Over Week 5 or Genealogy Do-Over at bagtheweb to learn more and read what others have to say on the topic.  Thanks to Thomas MacEntee for initiating and hosting the Genealogy Do-Over.


Copyright © 2015 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Your dad was a wise man! I think organization for genealogists is THE biggest issue out there. And if your personality tends toward organization it is just as hard, maybe worse because you (should admit to "I" rather) keep looking for the perfect way to organize before organizing. It is just such a challenge.

    1. I agree that being organized is very important for a family historian/genealogist. I've organized lots of different things in my life and spent time deciding how to best organize whatever it is but in the end, I always find, after I have more than just a few of whatever it is to organize, that some other method would be better. For me, I begin with what I think will be the best way to organize and then change it when I realize the need for change. I hope you find the best solution and that it works for you, Kathleen.


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